Environmental Geoscience BSc


Fact file - 2019 entry

BSc Hons Environmental Geoscience
UCAS code
3 years full-time
A level offer
Required subjects
Two science subjects (biology, chemistry, environmental science, environmental studies, geography, geology, maths, physics, or closely related subjects); plus GCSE maths, 4 (C) or above
IB score
32; 5 in two science subjects at Higher Level
Course location
Course places


Focusing on environmental and geological issues of societal concern, this course is uniquely provided in conjunction with the world-leading British Geological Survey (BGS).
Read full overview

Geoscientists work to understand the Earth's processes and provide essential information for solving some of the 21st century's most pressing societal challenges, including managing resources, protecting the environment, and the health, safety and welfare of the public.

Run collaboratively with the  BGS, which advises the UK government on all aspects of geoscience, this course is designed to help grow the next generation of environmental geoscience experts.

You will gain practical experience and work with specialists who are currently conducting vital research on climate change, Earth hazards and energy. You will go into the field with geoscientists from the BGS and the University.

Benefiting from state-of-the-art facilities, including specialist laboratories dedicated to the physical and chemical analysis of sediments and water, you'll also have opportunities to travel to inspirational destinations in the UK and overseas.

Year one

Designed to ensure you have the key foundation-level knowledge required for more in-depth study in years two and three, the first year of this course includes introductions to geological, atmospheric, oceanic and ecological systems. You'll develop your practical research skills with a four-day intensive residential field course in the Lake District.

Years two and three

You'll undertake core modules in geology and research techniques in your second and third years, as well as prepare a 10,000-word dissertation based on a research topic of your choice.

You will undertake fieldwork (currently in Cyprus), will be able to choose from a range of geoscience modules. You can also apply to spend a semester of your second year studying abroad, taking similar modules to your counterparts back in Nottingham or expanding your knowledge through other options.

One of the reasons I chose to study in the School of Geography was its close proximity to the British Geological Survey and the fact that it works closely with them. I was also excited by the amount of career-related opportunities and outside speakers.

Abbie Dodds, BSc Environmental Geoscience

Take a closer look at our geography facilities.

Key facts


Entry requirements

A levels: ABB including two science subjects (biology, chemistry, environmental science, environmental studies, geography, geology, maths, physics or closely related subjects), excluding general studies and critical thinking; a pass is required in science practical tests, if assessed separately

GCSEs: GCSE maths, 4 (C) or above

Understand how we show GCSE grades

English language requirements

IELTS: 7.0 (no less than 6.0 in any element)

For details of other English language tests and qualifications we accept, please see our entry requirements page.

If you require additional support to take your language skills to the required level, you may be able to attend a presessional course at the Centre for English Language Education, which is accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English in the UK.

Students who successfully complete the presessional course to the required level can progress onto their chosen degree course without retaking IELTS or equivalent.

International applicants

For country-specific information including entry requirements, contact details and representatives, see our website. If you need a visa to study, the University can provide all the information and advice you need.

Mature students

At the University of Nottingham we have a valuable community of mature students and we appreciate their contribution to the wider student population. You can find lots of useful information in our guide for mature students.

Alternative qualifications

Our admission process recognises that applicants have a wealth of different experiences and may have followed various educational pathways. Please view the alternative qualifications page for details.

Flexible admissions policy

In recognition of our applicants’ varied experience and educational pathways, the University of Nottingham employs a flexible admissions policy. We may make some applicants an offer lower than advertised, depending on their personal and educational circumstances. Please see the University’s admissions policies and procedures for more information.

Notes for applicants

We are looking for students who have the ability and motivation to benefit from our courses, and who will make a valued contribution to the school and the University. Candidates are considered on the basis of their UCAS application.

All applications are considered equally on merit; students are usually selected on the basis of academic excellence and personal qualities. We do not rely on predicted grades alone but take into account the broader context of your achievements, primarily as reflected by your engagement with geography beyond studying it as an academic subject - as evidenced in your personal statement and reference.

Applicants are not routinely interviewed. If you are offered a place with the School of Geography, you will be invited to attend an offer-holder event. The aim of this event is for you to ensure that Nottingham meets your needs and aspirations. You will be able to meet members of the teaching staff and, very importantly, some current undergraduates.



The following is a sample of the typical modules that we offer as at the date of publication but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Due to the passage of time between commencement of the course and subsequent years of the course, modules may change due to developments in the curriculum and the module information in this prospectus is provided for indicative purposes only.

Typical year one modules

Core modules

Careers Skills for Geographers

This module covers:

  • self-marketing and CVs
  • preparing for interviews and assessment
  • careers for geographers
  • subject-focused vocational talk
  • postgraduate study (masters and PhD) 
  • guest lectures (for example, from Royal Geographical Society - Institute of British Geographers) 
  • career planning 

Topics will be delivered by the school's Career Advisor from the Careers and Employability Service and academics from the School of Geography.

Importantly, you will be expected to make regular use of the Careers and Employability Service to assist with progress during the year and attend a range of employer presentations and other events (for example, employer fairs).

Earth and Environmental Dynamics

This module integrates knowledge taken from the hydrosphere, oceans and continents to inform an understanding of global physical systems as they affect people and the environment. The module considers:

  • hydrological cycles
  • principles of Earth and geomorphological systems
  • fluvial geomorphology and biogeomorphology
Geographical Field Course

A four day, intensive period of residential field study. Teaching will concentrate on the rationale and techniques of field study in both human and physical aspects of geography. Particular emphasis is placed on the design, practice and analysis of small research projects based on geographical issues.

Small-group teaching is central to this module; you will work in a small group throughout, and much of the teaching involves direct interaction between staff (and postgraduate demonstrators) and the small groups of students.

Introduction to Geographic Information Systems

The module provides you with the theoretical background and practical training to undertake basic spatial analysis within a contemporary Geographic Information System (GIS). 

It is built upon a structured set of paired theory lectures and practical sessions, supported by detailed theory topics delivered via Moodle, which contain linkages to associated textbook resources. It aims to ensure competency in the use of a contemporary GIS software package whilst developing transferable ICT skills.

It also encourages you to develop the analytical skills necessary for the creation of workflows that utilise the built-in analytical functionality of a GIS to solve a spatial problem.

Mathematics for Environmental Geosciences

This module provides a basic course in calculus and algebra, introducing key elements of definition, manipulation, differentiation and graphical representation of functions, as well as quadratic equations, simultaneous linear equations, infinite series, vectors and matrices.

On Earth and Life

On Earth and Life explores the deep historical co-evolution of Earth and Life and emphasises uniqueness of place and historical contingency. The module leads on from and complements Physical Landscapes of Britain in exploring geological, plate tectonic and palaeoenvironmental ideas and research, but at the global scale.

It emphasises the role of life in creating past and present planetary environments, and conversely the role of environment and environmental change in the evolution and geography of life. The module also serves to prepare the ground for and contextualise several second and third year geography modules, especially Environmental Change and Patterns of Life.

Physical Landscapes of Britain

This module provides an understanding of the history and origins of the Earth and its life and landforms through consideration of the following topics:

  • Development of life over geological time
  • Environmental changes over geological time
  • Field trip to the Peak District (full costs will be suppliednearer the time of the trip)

Small group tutorials in both the autumn and spring semesters in which emphasis will be placed on discussion, essay writing and seminar presentations which will be based on topics in the qualifying year geography modules and from broader intellectual, cultural and political fields.


Typical year two modules

Core modules

Dissertation Preparation

This module is taught by formal lectures, scheduled preliminary fieldwork, and supervision meetings with your dissertation tutor. It covers the following:

  • Introduction to the dissertation process and procedures 
  • What is a dissertation? 
  • Ethics, risk and safety implications when conducting geographical research 
  • Preparing a dissertation proposal 
  • Writing and presenting a dissertation
  • Evaluation of past dissertations
Mineralogy and Petrology

The aim of this module is to introduce students to the major different rock types and the principal rock-forming minerals from which they are made. The module will consider:

  • economic mineral deposits
  • hydrocarbon resources
  • environmental mineralogy, for example, radioactive waste management, shale gas
  • volcanology and volcanic hazards

Specifically the module will include discussion of:

  • major rock types and rock-forming; bulk materials
  • types of ore deposit, how they form, and the important ore minerals and critical metals
  • types of oil and gas reservoirs, traps, seals, burial diagenesis and hydrocarbon migration
  • environmental mineralogy and geochemistry, covering carbon capture and storage technology and radioactive waste management

The module will cover these issues theoretically and practically.

Research Tutorial

This module will cover the breadth of world-leading research being carried out in the School of Geography and is reflected in the school's research themes:

  • Cultural and Historical Geography
  • Economic Worlds
  • Environment and Society
  • Geosciences

For students taking Geography with Business or Environmental Sciences, content of tutorials will be restricted to meet the aims of these courses.

Sedimentology and Palaeontology

The aim of this module is to introduce you to sedimentology/sedimentary geology (the study of sediments such as sand, silt and clay and the processes that result in their deposition) and palaeontology (the study of fossils, both animal and plant, and both macroscopic and microscopic).

You will be given a comprehensive course on these subjects and how they are used scientifically and industrially together with their impact on human society and the natural environment.

Techniques in Physical Geography

This module presents the opportunity for hands-on experience of laboratory, field and surveying techniques in physical geography appropriate to the domain of interest of the participants. To achieve these aims all students participate in field projects on a residential field course, some of which are completed in the laboratory back in Nottingham, leading to an individual project.

In addition, you choose further laboratory techniques to investigate in the second semester. The ethical, safety and fieldwork limitations of geographical work are also considered.


Optional modules

Digital Explorers: Finding Geospatial Patterns in a Changing World

This module provides a consideration of the following:

  • Introduction to GI science/systems/studies/services 
  • Spatial data types and sources 
  • Vector processing algorithms 
  • Raster processing algorithms
  • Spatial analysis and decision making 
  • Professional training in ArcGIS 
Environmental Change

This module considers the mechanisms for, and evidence of, global environmental change during the timescale of the Quaternary period. The nature, causes and impacts of change are evaluated in the context of the available evidence within a range of natural and human environments. 

Patterns of Life

This module focuses on patterns in the distribution of organisms in space and time, and theories proposed to explain those patterns. The main themes are:

  • biodiversity patterns
  • island biogeography
  • biodiversity dynamics
  • speciation and extinction 
  • evolution
River Processes and Dynamics

This module:

  • introduces the water and sediment processes that operate in rivers
  • describes the characteristic forms of alluvial channels and the links between river processes and channel dynamics
  • uses laboratory practicals and a field trip to deliver kinaesthetic, student-centred learning and add value to teaching and learning during lectures

Topics covered include:

  • catchments and longitudinal patterns
  • river planforms: braided, meandering and straight
  • timescales of river change and morphological adjustments
  • complex response in the fluvial system
  • flow resistance, sediment transport and bank erosion
  • an introduction to biogeomorphology and aquatic ecology

Typical year three modules

Core modules

Dissertation BSc

This is a 10,000 word individual project based on a geographical topic involving fieldwork and/or secondary data, and agreed by the candidate with their tutor and a specialist supervisor.

Geological Mapping

The aim of this module is to provide you with training in the methods of geological field mapping, including an introduction to applied and environmental geophysics and their application to the investigation of the subsurface and human interaction with the geosphere. 

Geological Hazards and Resources

A geohazard is a natural process or phenomenon that has the potential to adversely affect humanity by endangering life or property. A geo resource is a substance or commodity that can be extracted from the subsurface for use by humanity. This module will spend one semester focussing on these two important issues for Environment and Society.


Optional modules

Environmental Informatics and Modelling

This module will expose you to current practices, technologies and ideas existing at the forefront of environmental modelling. The module offers an opportunity for you to experience the theory and practice associated with key developments that are occurring in major modelling domains and the most recent advances from the research community. 

The module will comprise four parts:

  1. Introduction 
  2. Modelling the impacts of climate change 
  3. Modelling biogeography 
  4. Hydrology and hydroinformatics
Geospatial Technologies: Mobile, Augmented and Virtual

This module focuses on the uptake of digital geographic information across a wide range of applications in society and the research agenda that is underpinning these developments. We will explore the use of location-aware mobile devices and techniques for geo-visualisation that are visually immersive and interactive. Content is organised as follows:

Part I: Digital Geographic Information in the public domain
Here we consider how a convergence of technologies (positioning, communication and processing) has allowed digital geographic information to make an impact 'beyond the desktop' at both a global scale through the web, and at a personal scale via the mobile device. This includes virtual globes, 'open' and 'linked' geographic information, Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI), location-based services, and mobile geospatial apps.

Part II: Virtual Geographic Environments
Here we look at the role and impact of multi-dimensional geographic visualisation to support decision making, environmental impact assessment, and the communication of spatial context. This includes animation and 3D graphics, advances in data capture, urban and rural landscape visualisation, interaction design and immersion, augmented and virtual realities.

Global Climate Change

The module covers the following:

  • A review of modern climate systems and forcings
  • Climate modelling, projections of future climate change and their uncertainty
  • Controversies around climate change, the argument between believers and sceptics and the ways in which climate change is communicated to and perceived by the public 
  • The impact of climate change on the world's physical and built environments, water and food resources, and human health
  • Mitigation and adaptation to future climate change including the role played by policy markers and NGOs
Practical River Management and Restoration (Mount St. Helens field course)

This field-based module examines river processes and dynamics within the context of human efforts to manage and restore dynamic river systems. The module is taught during a 12-day field course to the Mt St. Helens National Monument in Washington State, USA and a four-week river change detection and visualisation project that will run through the remainder of the autumn semester.

The post-1980 eruption landscape of Mt St. Helens and its wider region is one of the world's most important natural laboratories for the study of severely disrupted rivers. You will enjoy a unique opportunity to gain hands-on, practical skills in river management by working in this exciting and demanding environment. The module is structured around two core questions:

  • What are the likely impacts of the Mt St. Helens eruption on the region's river systems, riparian settlements and environments over the next 50 years?
  • What are the practical, management options that should be considered for mitigating these impacts?
Quaternary Environments (Mexico field course)

This module considers the quaternary evolution, environmental and settlement history of the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico, building explicitly on material covered in Environmental Change. The focus of the course will be evolution of the present climate and environment of the lowland tropics and the interaction between the natural environment and human societies.

The module is based on a 10 day residential field trip to the Yucatan and project work associated with this. Full costs of the field trip will be advised nearer the time of the visit. The main elements are:

  • an overview of climate dynamics in the tropics, with particular emphasis on changes in the monsoon, the impact of sea level change and drivers of change from mid-latitudes
  • critical review of methods of environmental reconstruction, dating techniques and sampling methods (waters, soils, sediments)
  • archives of change relevant to the study area, primarily lakes and cave systems
  • quaternary history of the Yucatan
  • mesoamerican archaeology and cultural change in the Yucatan
  • exploration of the possible role of climate in driving societal change
Scale and Diversity in the Canary Islands

The module involves the study of broad-scale patterns of diversity, endemism and evolution in the Canary Islands using secondary data made available and where necessary collected by students. Independent research by student research groups supported by lectures, training sessions, research development seminars, presentation and feedback sessions, and unlimited consultations with lecturers.


Study abroad

On this course, you can apply to spend a semester studying abroad at one of our partner institutions in locations such as Australia, Canada, Europe and the USA.

You will get the opportunity to broaden your horizons and enhance your employability by experiencing another culture. You can choose to study similar modules to your counterparts back in Nottingham or expand your knowledge by taking other options. Teaching is typically in English; however, there may be opportunities to study in another language if you are sufficiently fluent.

We also offer field trips to develop your practical skills, with international locations including Italy and the USA.



You will have the opportunity to explore post-graduation routes to professional qualifications - such as becoming a Chartered Geologist - and, beyond that, working towards being a Specialist in Land Condition or being on the Register of Ground Engineering Professionals.

As a graduate from the University of Nottingham, you will be highly sought after, and by studying a degree in the School of Geography, you will acquire a broad skill set that will lay the foundations for your chosen career.

Employability is at the heart of our teaching, and we ensure that all of our degrees will equip you with the essential skills and knowledge that employers are looking for. Our comprehensive careers programme includes one-to-one CV workshops and employer talks from school alumni, as well as career networking events.

Our graduates go on to a wide range of careers. Some enter roles that have a direct correlation to their degree, including conservation and heritage protection and land surveying. Others secure positions that utilise their transferable skills such as management consultancy, PR, marketing and financial roles.

Recent graduates from the School of Geography have gone on to work for organisations such as the British Geological Survey, Capita, Grant Thornton, Historic England, Network Rail, Swiss Re, Teach First, and Tesla Motors.

Employability and average starting salary

97.4% of undergraduates from the School of Geography had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £22,000 with the highest being £36,000.*

* Known destinations of full-time home undergraduates who were available for work 2016/17. Salaries are calculated based on the median of those in full-time paid employment within the UK.

Careers support and advice

Studying for a degree at the University of Nottingham will provide you with the type of skills and experiences that will prove invaluable in any career, whichever direction you decide to take.

Throughout your time with us, our Careers and Employability Service can work with you to improve your employability skills even further; assisting with job or course applications, searching for appropriate work experience placements and hosting events to bring you closer to a wide range of prospective employers.

Have a look at our careers page for an overview of all the employability support and opportunities that we provide to current students.


Fees and funding

Scholarships and bursaries

The University of Nottingham offers a wide range of bursaries and scholarships. These funds can provide you with an additional source of non-repayable financial help. For up to date information regarding tuition fees, visit our fees and finance pages.

Home students*

Over one third of our UK students receive our means-tested core bursary, worth up to £2,000 a year. Full details can be found on our financial support pages.

* A 'home' student is one who meets certain UK residence criteria. These are the same criteria as apply to eligibility for home funding from Student Finance.

International/EU students

Our International Baccalaureate Diploma Excellence Scholarship is available for select students paying overseas fees who achieve 38 points or above in the International Baccalaureate Diploma. We also offer a range of High Achiever Prizes for students from selected countries, schools and colleges to help with the cost of tuition fees. Find out more about scholarships, fees and finance for international students.


Key Information Sets (KIS)

KIS is an initiative that the government has introduced to allow you to compare different courses and universities.

How to use the data

This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.


getting exclusive access to expert staff from the British Geological Survey
+44 (0)115 951 5559 Make an enquiry


The Undergraduate Admissions Secretary, School of Geography   

Student Recruitment Support Hub

The University of Nottingham
King's Meadow Campus
Lenton Lane
Nottingham, NG7 2NR

t: +44 (0) 115 951 5559
w: Frequently asked questions
Make an enquiry